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The Health Risks of Pesticides in Produce and the Benefits of Vertical Farming

The Health Risks of Pesticides in Produce and the Benefits of Vertical Farming

Amidst a mounting body of scientific evidence linking pesticides to serious health issues, they remain a significant problem in the American produce industry.

Despite the studies, pesticides are still rampant, tainting fruits and vegetables with toxic residues. A recent report from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) reveals that a staggering 75% of non-organic fresh produce sold in the U.S. is contaminated with these insidious chemicals. The EWG has also released its "Dirty Dozen" list, which identifies the fruits and vegetables grown with the highest levels of pesticides.1

The Risks of Pesticides in Produce

Pesticides are chemical compounds commonly used in the production of fruits and vegetables to prevent damage from pests and diseases. While some pesticides may be removed through washing or peeling, others may be absorbed into the produce and cannot be eliminated through these methods.

Studies2 have shown that exposure to pesticides can lead to a range of human health issues, including increased risk of cancer, reproductive problems, and damage to the nervous system. Furthermore, consuming fruits and vegetables with high levels of pesticide residues may negate the health benefits of such produce, including protection against cardiovascular disease and mortality.3

Making Informed Choices: The EWG "Dirty Dozen" and "Clean Fifteen" Lists

The EWG compiles yearly lists of the "Dirty Dozen" and "Clean Fifteen," based on information from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Pesticide Data Program. The "Dirty Dozen" list identifies the 12 fruits and vegetables with the highest levels of pesticide residues, which include strawberries, spinach, kale, collard and mustard greens, peaches, pears, nectarines, apples, grapes, bell and hot peppers, cherries, blueberries, and green beans.

While cutting down on produce due to concern for pesticides may seem like the best course of action, it is actually counterproductive. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most Americans don’t consume nearly enough produce. In 2019, only 10-12% of surveyed adults met vegetable and fruit intake recommendations.4

The Benefits of Vertically-Grown Produce

Choosing organic fruits and vegetables is the first step to reducing the amount of pesticide residues in your body. However, organic foods are not necessarily pesticide-free.5 An exciting alternative is vertically-grown produce, which can offer comparable or even superior nutritional benefits to organic fresh fruits and vegetables.

Vertical farming is a sustainable and eco-friendly development in agriculture, with the potential to revolutionize how we grow and consume fresh produce. This innovative technique allows for the production of fresh and healthy greens in urban environments, where access to farmland is limited. The controlled environment of vertical farms means that the greens are grown without pesticides and other harmful chemicals, resulting in healthier, safer produce.

Daily Elements Greens Powder: A Clean Alternative

Daily Elements contains greens grown in a vertical, fully controlled farm in Chicago—without the use of pesticides, herbicides, or additives—making them even cleaner than organic. A scoop of the final product is equivalent to 7 cups of leafy greens and fully covers the daily vegetable intake recommendations.

Choosing to opt for organic or vertically-grown produce, when possible, is an excelent way to reduce the amount of pesticide residues in the body, while still getting the nutritional benefits of fresh produce.

1. Environmental Working Group (EWG)
2. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
3. Harvard University
4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
5. National Pesticide Information Center